- Lateche Norris’ mom was sent a purported ransom note asking for $US7,000 ($AU9,865), the missing woman’s father said.
- Norris’ mom last heard from her on November 5 when she called from a stranger’s phone at a 7-Eleven in San Diego.
- The San Diego Police Department said they are following every lead and tip to find Norris.
Missing woman Lateche Norris’ mom was sent a purported ransom note asking for $US7,000 ($AU9,865), Norris’ father told Insider.
Days after the family filed a missing person report for Norris on November 9, Norris’ mother received a note via a text message from an unknown number, her father told Insider.
“It was like, ‘If you want to see your daughter again, send me $US7,000 ($AU9,865),’ ” her father, Walter Omega Cullum, said.
Norris’ mother, Cheryl Walker, replied to the note and asked the person to provide proof that Norris was safe and alive.
The sender never responded, Cullum said.
After receiving the alleged ransom note, the family contacted the San Diego Police Department, Cullum said.
San Diego police wouldn’t comment specifically about the ransom note, citing the ongoing nature of the case, but said that they are following every lead and have been since the missing person report was filed.
“What we need is more tips and leads that ultimately are going to lead us to her” Adam Sharki, a Public Information Officer with the San Diego Police Department, told Insider.
Norris has been missing since November 5, when she called her mother from a stranger’s phone at a 7-Eleven in San Diego, California.
Norris had flown to San Diego to live with her boyfriend, Joseph “Joey” Smith on November 1, her family said.
In the November 5 phone call to her mother, Norris said she had been fighting with Smith “for hours” the night before, according to her parents.
Norris also promised to call her mom back, but never did.
“I will Momma, I promise, I love you more,” is the last thing Norris said to her mother, according to a November 27 Facebook post by Walker.
Since the disappearance family has put out missing posters and has tried to publicize the case on social media. On Monday, Joseph Petito — the father of slain missing woman Gabby Petito — called on his followers to help find Lateche.
—joseph petito (@josephpetito) November 30, 2021
San Diego police said in a statement that Norris has been considered an “at-risk missing person” as of November 20.
The police department said in their statement that they have no indication yet that Norris is the victim of a crime.
The department also said its officers have done three weeks of “extensive investigative work in trying to find her.”
Cullum said that after Walker went to the police, she then reached out to the FBI. Cullum said the FBI told the family that the ransom was “fake.”
“What’s fake to you is real to other people,” Cullum told Insider.
Insider contacted a representative for the FBI, though they did not immediately provide a response to the family’s claims.
Walker has publicly alleged Norris’ boyfriend, Smith, was “troubled” and had a history of drug addiction. The couple’s neighbors in San Diego told CBS 8 San Diego Norris had tried to support Smith during his addiction.
No one has heard from Smith since November 5, either.